Tea is the second most popular drink in the world besides water, but unlike water, tea comes in a wide variety of flavours and can even be infused into other types of food and drink.
But with such a wide selection of teas to choose from, the problem can be finding the right brew for you. Picking the perfect tea can involve a lot of factors, including taste, sensitivity to caffeine and desire for a particular physical or mental effect.
According to Toronto-based health and nutrition expert Rosanna Lee, regular brewed tea makes for a great, low-calorie, mid-day treat — plus it keeps you hydrated. But drinking tea isn't just a good option for weight control. Different teas can also have different effects on your gut, brain and muscles, thanks to their ingredients.
While the caffeine in coffee, for example, gets praise for reducing the risk of a stroke, some teas can contain up to 70 mg of caffeine per cup, slightly less than a cup of joe, according to the Mayo Clinic, meaning they'll have the same effect.
Meanwhile, stimulants like peppermint are also known to help relax stomach muscles, allowing for gas to pass and bloating to decrease.
Of course, if you're loading up your cuppa with cream, sugar, honey or milk, you might be counteracting any benefits in your brew. Lee suggests limiting sweeteners and opting for skim milk or low-fat dairy alternatives in place of full fat milk.
Take a look at six types of tea she suggests for the most health benefits per cup:
Ginger on its own has long been touted as a natural medicine due to its anti-inflammatory properties, its ability to reduce nausea and relive settle an upset stomach. Instead of eating ginger, reap the benefits by whipping up a cup or pot of homemade ginger tea.
Just like ginger, peppermint has been known to tame tummy troubles. But the herb does a lot more than that, including easing headaches, curbing cravings and clearing a stuffy nose. Tap into the power of peppermint by pouring out yourself a cup of peppermint tea the next time you feel bloated or tired.
Green tea in general contains powerful antioxidants that can help protect against cellular damage, says nutrition expert Rosanna Lee. This tea has been found to increase alertness and help improve concentration, helping you with mental and physical performance. To get more concentrated antioxidants out of your tea, steep the tea longer and opt for matcha tea instead of a green tea bag. Matcha powder is made from whole tea leaves and it is regularly consumed in its entirety when prepared.
You've probably heard about the benefits of drinking lemon water, but you might not realize drinking lemon tea is practically the same thing. Adding real lemon juice to make lemon tea can also provide you with vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help protect your body’s cells from free radical damage. Vitamin C is also essential in helping your body undergo its daily repair and maintenance of skin, blood vessels, cartilage and tendons, says Lee.
Chamomile is known to be effective in reducing swelling, while fighting bacteria. Other studies have pointed to its ability to alleviate stomach cramps. If you are allergic to flowers, pollen or ragweed, you should avoid chamomile, as pollen found in some chamomile tea varieties can cause allergic reactions. Chamomile may also interfere with blood thinner (anti-coagulant) medications, says Lee.
Those that are pregnant, lactating or have chronic conditions that require medications should always consult a certified health practitioner for the best advice when trying new teas, warns Lee. Through teas are normally not concentrated enough to cause any major harm, excess consumption can cause complications.